The question of whether restaurants should serve tap water for free has been done to death. Instead of telling you ‘why you should (or should not) visit’, we’ve listed 10 establishments that charge for tap water:
Astons Specialties $0.30 for refillable tap water
This is affordable dining at its best: think value-for-money items such as hearty portions of chicken (from $7.90) and steaks (from $13.50). A Wagyu ribeye grade 6 only costs $39.90, accompanied by two side dishes of the diner’s choice. At such low prices, a few cents or tap water seems reasonable — someone’s got to pay for the utilities.
Aston’s Specialties | Address: 119/121 East Coast Road | Tel: 62477857 | Opening hours: Sun–Thu 11.30am–10pm, Fri & Sat 11.30am–11pm
Canton-i $1 $0.50 for refillable water
This traditional Cantonese restaurant offers authentic Hong Kong and Guangzhou dishes in an achingly modern — and pink — setting. The flaky egg tarts (3 pieces for $4) and piping bowls of congee ($3–$9.80) are good, as is the obligatory cup of milk tea ($4.50). But water doesn’t come cheap here.
Canton-i | #03-14 ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn | Tel: 65098368 | Opening hours: Mon–Fri 11am–10pm, Sat & Sun 10.30am–10pm
Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao $0.30 for refillable water
Even though the xiao long bao (steamed broth-filled dumplings, $4.80) and braised pork belly with pancake ($13.80) are favourites, dishes that pack powerful thirsty punches are also standards here — case in point the Sichuan-style la mian(hand-stretched noodles, $7–$9.80). Relief in the form of refillable tap water comes at $0.30 per cup.
Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao | Address: #04-27 Ngee Ann City, 391 Orchard Road | Tel: 62381661 | Opening hours: Mon–Sat 11am–10pm; Sun and public holidays 10.30am–10pm
Fika Swedish Café and Bistro $0.50 for refillable water
After a hot walk around the Arab Street area, stop here for a Champis or non-alcoholic Kopparberg’s pear cider (both $7.50) — imported specially by this Swedish halal cafe. The drinks selection also extends to kids: try the the Pucko chocolate drink ($6.90) is specially marketed to children. Water helps wash down the sugars here, but a refillable glass from the tap goes for $0.50 in these stylish yet homely interiors.
Fika Swedish Café and Bistro | Address: 257 Beach Road | Tel: 63969096 | Opening hours: Mon–Fri 11am–11pm, Sat & Sun noon–11pm
Lerk Thai $1 per bottle
This Thai chain is barely a decade old but it is already in nine locations, and more are sprouting. And, as the authentic, flavourful Thai cuisine is addictive, and thirst-inducing too; you’ll need some water to go with the clear tom yum seafood soup ($5–$18) and Massaman curry chicken ($11.90). The dollar you pay is for Doctor Who (house brand) mineral water bottle.
Lerk Thai | Address: #01-59/62 The Centrepoint, 176 Orchard Road | Tel: 67352292 | Opening hours: Daily 11am–10pm
Putien $0.30 per glass
At this Heng Hwa stalwart off Little India, you pay a little for tap water. There is also an equally proper, though pricier option of tie guan yin(Mandarin for ‘Iron Goddess of Mercy’) at $4.80 and Evian for $2.90. You’ll need one of these to wash down the Putien’s cuisine — fried Heng Hwa bee hoon ($7.90–$23.90) and stir-fried yam ($10.90–$16.90) top the list.
Putien | Address: 127 Kitchener Road | Tel: 62956358 | Opening hours: Daily 11.30am–2.30pm, 5.30pm–10.30pm
Tajimaya $3.50 $3.90 per bottle
Powerful suckers — that is what this authentic Japanese charcoal-grill restaurant has: a high-performance exhaust system that prevents diners from smelling of BBQ, even after dining in the mostly air-conditioned confines. Tap water is not served; instead you can have Evian mineral water at $3.50 a pop. You’re better off drinking the refillable hot green tea, which is $2 per cup. Tea helps wash down the char-grilled Wagyu karubi (short ribs, $49.90 per 120g) better anyway.
Tajimaya | Address: #01-102/103, Vivocity, 1 Harbourfront Walk | Tel: 63770060 | Opening hours: Mon–Fri noon–3pm, 6–10pm; Sat & Sun noon–10pm
The Rice Table $1.20 $2 per bottle
If you think ‘all-you-can-eat’ includes water, think again — the mineral water bottles here are sold at $1.20 each. It’s a smart move; Indonesian cuisine is heavily-spiced and has strong flavours — especially dishes such as the dry-heat-cooked ayam panggang (barbequed chicken), and the sweet-sauced tahu telor (deep-fried egg-and-tofu standing omelette).
The Rice Table | Address: #02-09/10 International Building, 360 Orchard Road | Tel: 68353782 | Opening hours: Daily noon–3pm, 6–9.15pm | Price: $18 (lunch), $28.50 (dinner)
True Blue Cuisine $1 $1/Free with other drinks ordered
A dollar for a glass of water gets you an authentic Peranakan experience in the chim chae (‘airwell’) of this shop house restaurant. Distract your tastebuds with the ayam buah keluak (chicken with a mangrove nuts, $18) and jantung pisang (banana flower, $16), while admiring the kebayas on display.
True Blue Cuisine | Address: 47/49 Armenian Street | Tel: 64400449 | Opening hours: Daily 11.30am–2.30pm, 6–9.30pm
Wild Oats $1.40 per bottle
No tap water at this park hangout, just Ice Mountain bottled water, at $1.40 each. This makes sense though — the restaurant wants real diners, not tired roller-bladers and runners hanging around for free water. But that’s still $0.40 above the recent entries — guess demand is high here.
Wild Oats | Address: Punggol Park, Hougang Avenue 8 | Tel: 68582087 | Opening hours: Sun–Thu 4pm–midnight, Fri 4pm–1am, Sat 4pm–2am
As alerted to by the lovely HungryGoWhere readers (thanks guys!):
Hot Tomato Express and Hot Tomato Café & Grill $0.20-$0.30 $0.30 for refillable water
As there are several Hot Tomato branches, we decided to check them all: it’s $0.20 per refillable glass across all outlets (including the new Causeway Point outlet), although it is $0.30 per glass — also refillable — at the 313@Somerset branch. The Republic Plaza branch is closed so don’t go searching for water there.
Hot Tomato Café & Grill | Address: #B3-35/36 313@Somerset, 313 Orchard Road | Tel: 68846631 | Opening hours: Daily 11am–10pm
Lenas free at Raffles City, charges at other branches $0.30 per glass
Lenas at Raffles City serves free tap water, but the outlet at NEX charges $0.30 for a refillable serving. The branch at Bugis Junction charges $0.30 as well, but no refills.
Lenas | Address: #01-88/89 Bugis Junction, 200 Victoria Street | Tel: 63367630 | Opening hours: Mon–Thu 11.30am–10.30pm, Fri–Sun 10.30am–11.30pm
Siam Kitchen $0.30 for refillable water at Bugis Junction only
The Bugis Junction branch is a franchise and managed differently, which is why it charges this nominal fee for tap water while other branches don’t.
Siam Kitchen | Address: #02-46 Bugis Junction, 200 Victoria Street | Tel: 63373777 | Opening hours: Daily 11.30am–10pm
Freshly Baked by Le Bijoux $0.30 for refillable water
This Killiney Road bakery serves up hearty, excellent brunch fare. We tried the creamy scrambled eggs with bacon and soft homemade toast (Brunch A, $11.90) with a side of avocado (add $2.50), and the same in the form of a sandwich (less the eggs – BLT, $8.90). We love the soft and fresh breads at Freshly Baked, but the chargeable water ($0.30), not so much.
Freshly Baked by Le Bijoux | Address: 57 Killiney Road | Tel: 67353298 | Opening hours: Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 8am-6pm, Sun 8am-3pm